Erik & Phillippa: Part 3 – a Life with Infertility

Erik and Phillippa part 3 – A Life With Infertility

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Three years have passed since we got engaged and swapped our bikes for cars. We still don’t have the children we dream about having. We are still struggling with infertility.

Infertility isn’t easy. I am tired of hearing about all my friends who can get pregnant just by “looking at each other”. I stopped being happy on their behalf. Phillippa stopped having the interest to attend all the christenings we were invited to.

I didn’t feel the same way, mainly because at first, I wouldn’t disappoint our friends – so cancelling was not an option for me. Phillippa participated in the christenings with me, even though she eventually hated it. We had five to six christenings in the first year while trying to conceive ourselves!

I didn’t mind all the babies around me. It is pretty hard to be mad at a baby. For me, it was all the successful pregnancies that were bothering me.

It’s so damn unfair!

Phillippa and I have worked hard to get to the position we have today. We have not taken life for granted. We have both struggled throughout our lives. I lost my father when I was 19, and Phillippa’s family have been through a difficult divorce. But none of us have at any point given up on life. We have not allowed life crises to discourage us. We have always overcome our struggles.

Dealing with Infertility

Now, I’m actually not the type that reacts with violent outbreaks. But this is so damn annoying. My way of dealing with infertility is to be snappy and easily irritated. I am snappy towards my employees and especially towards my own mother. I don’t have anyone to talk to about infertility and our personal struggles. In our everyday life, I feel that we are standing still, waiting. Waiting for a pregnancy that has not happened.

I try not to be snappy or unnecessary irritated with Phillippa but I feel that she blames me for this fertility journey. She hates the fertility treatments so much that she is willing to accept the fact that we might never have a child the natural way.


I know how much she wants to have a baby, so I will never give up fighting. With fertility treatments, we might have a good chance of conceiving, and I don’t want to give up hopes of being a parent until we have tried everything possible.

I wish that I could do more to help with the process Phillippa and I are in. I feel alone, standing here on the sideline without any power to contribute. But I think that my most important task right now is to stay strong for both of us. My relationship with Phillippa has been tested many times and she has more than once packed her clothes and left, but  I have always been able to get her back home again. On our wedding, I promised to be with her for the rest of our lives and would like to keep this commitment during this fertility process.

Infertility & Bad Sperm Quality

Actually, sperm quality was never an issue for me. I have always thought that my sperm quality was good of course, why shouldn’t it be? I am healthy so of course, my sperm quality is good.

Before this baby project, I have never had any worries about infertility; whether Phillippa and I would have children. I went through life thinking that I can get everything I want when I want it.

But when nothing happened after months of trying, I began to wonder about the quality of my swimmers.

Test in bin

Many articles have mentioned that my sperm quality has been impaired over the last couple of years. I have been driving with seat heating, worked with the computer over my lap, eating unhealthy foods, drinking and partying over many weekends. All these reasons could explain my low sperm numbers. But again, many other males have had much worse lifestyles than me and still made the dad title.

The whole experience of sperm testing in the hospital was un-sexy and mechanical. You feel like a patient stepping into the fertility department.

The result of my sperm quality test was sadly not very impressive. And now I have it, black on white.

It’s not something that I am proud of, but on the other hand; I am not embarrassed by it.


When asking at the fertility clinic if there is something I can do to improve my sperm, I am told that there isn’t much I can do. “Try not to put your laptop on your legs and don’t drink alcohol” … great advice. But, nothing about diet, toxins, supplements or exercise.

Since we started working with ExSeed, more focus has been on me and what more I can contribute to not only improving our odds but also taking some of the pressure off Philippa. It has been great to get real and practical guidance and find out that my lifestyle matters too. You can read more about our story in Part 1 & Part 2.

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Wearing tight pants and underwear

Studies show that men who wear looser underwear have higher sperm concentration and total sperm count compared to men who wear tighter underwear. So, lose the tight clothes and wear something loose to give your testicles some air.

CONCLUSION: learn more about how heat can affect sperm quality here.


Besides higher mortality rate and various diseases, stress is associated with low sperm quality. Stress is known to be associated with lower testosterone levels and oxidative stress with both playing an essential role in producing and maintaining healthy sperm cells.

CONCLUSION: If you feel stressed, we recommend you get some help so you can have a balanced mental health. For a stress management guide, download the ExSeed app for free and start your personalized action plan today.

Physical activity

Scientific studies show that men who are physically active have better semen parameters than men who are inactive. Fertility specialists also state that regular physical activity has beneficial impact on sperm fertility parameters and such a lifestyle can enhance the fertility status of men.

Prioritizing exercise can help improve your overall health and result in healthy, fast swimming sperm cells that have good chances of fertilizing an egg.

CONCLUSION: Try incorporating exercise in your weekly schedule to you ensure exercising at least twice weekly. We recommend a combination of cardio training and strength exercise. Read more about exercise and male fertility on our blog.


Fast Food
Processed foods damage the health of sperm-producing cells and cause oxidative stress, which lead to poorer sperm quality. Heavy consumption of junk food (every week) can increase the likelihood of infertility since men who consume vast amounts of unhealthy food are at risk of having poor sperm quality. Besides harming your fertility, junk food enlarges your waistline, harms your cardiovascular system, kidneys, and more.

Eating more fruit and vegetables can increase your sperm concentration and motility. It’s important that you consume a healthy diet filled with antioxidants and that you eat vegetables every day. Foods such as apricots and red bell peppers are high in vitamin A, which improves male fertility by nurturing healthier sperm. Men who are deficient in this vitamin tend to have slow and sluggish sperm.

Sugary snacks/beverages: several times a week Excessive consumption of high sugar items can lead to oxidative stress, which negatively impacts testosterone levels and sperm motility. Sugary snacks and beverages are also highly associated with obesity and low fertility.
CONCLUSION: To boost sperm quality, stay away from fast food, processed food, and sugary snacks or beverages. You need to implement a healthy prudent diet filled with necessary superfoods needed for good sperm production. Check out our guide to Male Fertility Superfoods. For personalized guidance and support on how you can start improving your sperm health, check out the Bootcamp.


Direct heat can inhibit optimal sperm production and cause Sperm DNA damage. Sperm cells like environments that are a couple of degrees lower than body temperature. Avoid overheating from warm blankets, seat warmers, heat from your laptop, hot showers, and saunas.

Cigarette smoking

The exposure to tobacco smoke has significant negative effects on semen quality. The damage of cigarettes and nicotine of course depends on how many cigarettes you smoke per day and for how long, but even low usage (up to 10 cigarettes / day) can inhibit healthy sperm production.  

CONCLUSION: Stay as far away from cigarette smoking as possible if you care about your general health and your fertility. Read more here.

Cell phone

When you have your cell phone in your front pocket, your testicles are exposed to electromagnetic radiation, which studies have shown to damage the sperm cells. Put your phone in the back pocket of your pants or in your jacket pocket.


There is a clear association between obesity and reduced sperm quality. At least part of the reason for this is that obese men may have abnormal reproductive hormonal profiles, which can impair sperm production and lead to infertility. 

A BMI higher than 30 can lead to several processes in the body (overheating, increase in oxidative stress in the testes, sperm DNA damage, erectile dysfunction) that can have a negative impact on male fertility. This can result in problems when trying to conceive.  

CONCLUSION: BMI is one of the risk factors that influence semen quality and, for example, sperm motility.  


A beer or glass of wine now and then do not really harm sperm quality. But excess alcohol drinking (more than 20 units per week) can reduce the production of normally formed sperm needed for a successful pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: If you want to stay safe, stay under 14 units of alcohol per week. For more information on how alcohol can affect male fertility, take a look at our blog: “Alcohol and Sperm Quality”.


Studies show that women younger than 35 and men younger than 40 have a better chance of getting pregnant. Men can produce sperm cells almost through their entire life, but the sperm cell DNA is more fragile and prone to damage after the age of 40.

As men age, their testes tend to get smaller and softer resulting in a decline in sperm quality and production. These changes are partly because of an age-related decrease in testosterone level, which plays a very important role in sperm

production. Higher male age (>40 years) is not only associated with a decline in sperm production but also with increased sperm DNA fragmentation and worsened morphology (shape) and motility (movement). These negative effects make the sperm cells less qualified for egg fertilization.

CONCLUSION: with an age under 40, you shouldn’t have to worry much about age as a factor in itself. However, studies have shown a slow decline after the age of 30-35 years

and if you are above 40 years of age, your sperm quality can be affected due to increased sperm DNA damage resulting in a decrease of sperm motility and concentration. Remember that you cannot evaluate the quality of a sperm sample by just looking at it – this requires a sperm analysis.